4-page Case Study
Posted: 2/19/2014
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Western Health Australian Healthcare Organization Gains Efficiency, Lower Costs with Private Cloud

Western Health (WH) provides healthcare services to western Melbourne, one of Australia’s fastest growing areas. To help the business rapidly establish new clinics and health services throughout the community, the organization’s information and communications technology (ICT) staff deployed Microsoft cloud software and created a private cloud environment. It uses Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V technology and Microsoft System Center 2012 with Service Pack 1 to deliver servers in two hours versus four days. This kind of efficiency helps the business grow while keeping capital and operating costs in check. WH uses Veeam Backup & Replication software to back up its private cloud quickly and reliably, and it uses Hyper-V Replica and other Windows Server 2012 technologies to gain low-cost disaster protection with a recovery time of hours versus days.

Situation
Western Health (WH) is a major metropolitan health service network that supports the western suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. WH has four acute care hospitals and a range of support services, a staff of approximately 6,000 people, and serves a population of approximately 800,000 people across eight municipalities. Western Health is also a leading medical research and education organization.

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* The automated workflows that we created with System Center 2012 … allow us to rapidly provision new systems and services and ensure that our infrastructure can keep pace with growing needs. *

Cameron McBride
Manager of Systems and Software Solutions,
Western Health

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WH is a progressive organization, and its technology infrastructure has come a long way in a relatively short period of time. As recently as 2009, it relied heavily on manual, paper-based processes in both clinical and administrative areas. However, in May 2009 (with a refresh effort in October 2012) WH launched an organization-wide strategy to transition from paper-reliant and manual-intensive workflows to paper-light automated workflows.

In the space of a few years, WH deployed an electronic medical records system, deployed tablets for bedside visits, and installed Wi-Fi in clinical areas to support bring-your-own-device mobile access to clinical applications.

On the administrative side, it virtualized 250 physical servers in its datacenter using the Hyper-V technology in the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system. This reduced hardware costs and sped up the process of delivering IT services to the business. On its virtualized infrastructure, WH deployed a business intelligence system and Microsoft SharePoint Server collaboration software to simplify document sharing and introduce automated business workflows. Western Health also deployed Microsoft Lync Server technology to help employees communicate across multiple campuses.

Because of technical limitations in Windows Server 2008 R2, WH could not virtualize all of its workloads, which meant that the information and communications technology (ICT) staff had to manage a mixed physical and virtual environment. WH serves one of the fastest-growing areas in Australia, and its business is growing rapidly. It needed to launch new health services and clinics very quickly to support the growth, and the ICT staff was under pressure to compress server—and associated IT service—delivery times and to support an increasingly distributed workforce.

After virtualizing its datacenter, WH found that its backup tool did not support the new virtualized environment, requiring frequent server restarts and occasionally missing backups. In addition to needing a new backup solution, WH sought a new replication solution. Its existing solution was complex and expensive.

Solution
When Microsoft announced the Windows Server 2012 operating system, Western Health became an early adopter. Its primary interest was in the expanded virtual machine capacity that Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V provided. Windows Server 2012 supports virtual machines with up to 64 virtual processors and 1 terabyte of memory and clusters with as many as 64 nodes. WH can further increase virtual machine density by using Hyper-V Dynamic Memory, an efficient means of allocating memory to virtual machines.

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* Hyper-V allows us to do smart things with memory utilization. We can use Dynamic Memory to essentially stack more servers on top of one another. *

Cameron McBride
Manager of Systems and Software Solutions,
Western Health

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By using Windows Server 2012, WH was able to virtualize its biggest workloads and eliminate all but a handful of standalone servers—plus the associated need to manage a mixed physical and virtual environment. “Hyper-V allows us to do smart things with memory utilization,” says Cameron McBride, Manager of Systems and Software Solutions at Western Health. “We can use Dynamic Memory to essentially stack more servers on top of one another.”

Automated Private Cloud
WH worked with Thomas Duryea Consulting, a local solution integrator and member of the Microsoft Partner Network, to help it upgrade to Windows Server 2012 Datacenter and deploy Microsoft System Center 2012 with Service Pack 1 (SP1). WH had previously used isolated System Center products, but by using the new integrated System Center 2012 SP1 suite, the WH staff was able to create a highly automated private cloud environment. The cloud environment contains 30 production host servers and 15 replication servers.

One of the largest workloads in the WH private cloud is its Citrix XenApp virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment, which WH uses to deliver applications to employees and students in various locations to just about any device. Thomas Duryea Consulting worked with Microsoft and Citrix to develop an automated workflow for provisioning virtual machines and for provisioning virtual desktops in the private cloud. Ultimately, WH plans to run the full gamut of business applications in its private cloud: its electronic medical records application, financial applications, databases, web servers, file servers, and many others.

Built-In Replication and Other Features
WH loved Hyper-V Replica, a feature in Windows Server 2012 that provides asynchronous replication of virtual machines between storage systems, clusters, and datacenters over two sites to provide business continuity. “When we compared Hyper-V Replica with replication technology from other vendors, we saw a far simpler solution,” McBride says. “The other products required sending employees off to a lot of training.”

By using the offline data transfer feature of Windows Server 2012, WH IT administrators can copy large files from one location to another using its storage area network rather than sending them over the company network. By adding “shared nothing” live migration, WH further increases the flexibility of virtual machine movement and overall uptime. “Shared nothing” live migration allows the migration of a virtual machine from one Hyper-V host to another that is not part of the same cluster, shares no storage, and has only a gigabit Ethernet connection to the first virtual machine.

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* [By using Hyper-V Replica], we’ve also improved recovery time from a few
days to a few hours.…
This gives great assurance to the business that IT services will never be interrupted.
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Cameron McBride
Manager of Systems and Software Solutions,
Western Health

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WH will reduce storage costs by using the Windows Server 2012 Storage Spaces capability, which enables organizations to use industry-standard storage to build highly scalable, continuously available storage solutions.

Private Cloud Backup
To resolve its backup challenges, WH chose Veeam Backup & Replication, a powerful yet easy-to-use solution that provides fast, reliable backup and recovery for Hyper-V virtual machines. “Veeam offered support for Hyper-V much earlier than other vendors, which allowed us to back up our Hyper-V virtual machines shortly after we installed an early version of Windows Server 2012,” McBride said. “Since we work in a 24/7/365 environment, our aim is to have the least amount of impact on production servers when backing up virtual machines.”

Future Move to Public Cloud
To further speed server delivery and lower costs, WH plans to use Windows Azure, the Microsoft cloud platform that provides compute, storage, content delivery, and networking capabilities to host, scale, and manage web applications from Microsoft datacenters. By running applications in Windows Azure, WH would need fewer on-premises resources and could scale compute and storage resources on demand.

“As servers and storage in our private cloud come up for refresh, we’ll consider putting them in Windows Azure,” says Jason Whakaari, Executive Director of Information and Communications Technology in Capital and Contracts at Western Health. “Microsoft has a flexible approach to cloud computing; it’s always been very good at giving customers options. It doesn’t force you onto one path or another. It’s produced top-notch private cloud products and an easy path for moving to the public cloud.”

Benefits
By building a Hyper-V private cloud environment, Western Health was able to dramatically boost the efficiency of its ICT staff and better support the organization’s rapid growth by providing the technology it needs, when and where it needs it—all while reducing costs. By deploying Veeam software, WH gained cost-effective backup, and by using Hyper-V Replica, it gained a disaster recovery solution that is built into the operating system.

Greater IT Efficiency That Supports Business Growth
WH drastically reduced server delivery time—in some cases from three to four days to two hours—through the automation capabilities it achieved with System Center 2012 SP1. “The automated workflows that we created with System Center 2012 for creating new virtual servers, desktops, and applications allow us to rapidly provision new systems and services and ensure that our infrastructure can keep pace with growing needs,” McBride says.

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* This is a significant benefit for Western Health, being able to deliver a whole lineup of the latest e-health and administrative solutions across the business while also reducing costs. *

Jason Whakaari
Executive Director, Information and Communications Technology, Capital and Contracts,
Western Health

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Adds Whakaari, “We’re a small team—approximately half to two-thirds the size of many equivalent health services in our region. We believe that having a lean, agile, flexible ICT workforce supported by automated solutions is a much more effective and efficient way to execute ICT projects and manage ongoing operations.”

Lower IT Costs
Higher datacenter efficiency yields lower costs. “With the kinds of efficiency speedups we’ve seen with our private cloud, we anticipate expanding our environment significantly without the need for additional headcount,” Whakaari says. “This is a significant benefit for Western Health, being able to deliver a whole lineup of the latest e-health and administrative solutions across the business while also reducing costs. Also, because we’re using Hyper-V rather than expensive third-party hypervisors, we can keep costs low as we scale out our private cloud environment.”

By using Storage Spaces and deduplication, WH has been able to significantly reduce storage volumes and costs. And by using Hyper-V Replica, WH was able to retire its expensive third-party replication solution. “We’ve been able to reduce storage costs by 56 percent,” McBride says. “Storage is the most expensive cost in the datacenter right now, so being able to save there is tremendous. Equally important, we’re able to move to a storage-agnostic environment and not be wedded to a specific storage vendor.”

Faster, More Reliable Backup and Disaster Recovery
By using Veeam Backup & Replication, backup and recovery is 10 times faster, making data always available for patient care. “Veeam puts all its energy behind virtual backups, which has reduced the complexity of virtual machine backup while providing excellent results,” Whakaari says. “Due to the Veeam architecture, we’re very comfortable that as our storage requirements grow, our backup solution will scale.”

By using Hyper-V Replica, WH has gained a much faster disaster recovery solution at a much lower price. By using Hyper-V Replica and live migration, WH has been able to increase the availability of virtualized workloads and extend high availability to all workloads at no additional cost. “We’ve also improved recovery time from a few days to a few hours,” McBride says. “These new availability features mean much faster recovery times when moving workloads from primary to secondary locations. This gives great assurance to the business that IT services will never be interrupted.”

Transform the datacenter
The hybrid cloud from Microsoft transforms the datacenter by extending existing investments in skills and technology with public cloud services and a common set of management tools. With an on-premises infrastructure connected to the Windows Azure platform, you can deliver services faster and scale up or down quickly to meet changing needs.

For more information about transforming the datacenter, go to:
www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/cloud-os/modern-data-center.aspx

For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the United States and Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to:
www.microsoft.com

For more information about Thomas Duryea Consulting products and services, visit the website at:
www.thomasduryea.com.au  

For more information about Western Health products and services, visit the website at:
www.westernhealth.org.au  

Solution Overview



Organization Size: 6000 employees

Organization Profile

Western Health (WH) provides healthcare services across western Melbourne, Australia. In addition to medical services, Western Health is a medical research and education organization.


Business Situation

To accommodate rapid business growth, WH wanted to virtualize its datacenter more extensively and automate more IT processes. It also needed faster and less expensive backup and replication solutions.


Solution

WH used Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft System Center 2012 with Service Pack 1 to create a private cloud environment that runs the organization’s applications with increased flexibility and efficiency.


Benefits

  • Greater IT efficiency that supports business growth
  • Lower IT costs
  • Faster, more reliable backups
  • Fast, low-cost disaster recovery


Hardware
  • Cisco UCS blade servers
  • EMC storage

Third Party Software
  • Veeam Backup \u0026amp; Replication

Software and Services
  • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • Microsoft System Center 2012 SP1

Vertical Industries
Health Provider

Country/Region
Australia

Business Need
  • Cloud & Server Platform
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Cost Containment

IT Issue
Private Cloud

Languages
English

Partner(s)
Thomas Duryea Consulting

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